Barclay James Harvest Album Portfolio

Barclay James Harvest Album Portfolio

Ring Of Changes

Ring Of Changes LP cover

LP: Polydor POLH 3, 16th May, 1983
LP: Polydor POLH 3, stickered "Limited Edition" with free "Just A Day Away" picture disc, 16th May, 1983
MC: Polydor POLHC 3, 16th May, 1983
CD: Polydor 811 638-2, 16th May, 1983
Remastered CD: Esoteric ECLEC2332, 25th June, 2012


Side 1
Fifties Child (John Lees)
Looking From the Outside (Les Holroyd)
Teenage Heart (John Lees)
High Wire (Les Holroyd)
Midnight Drug (John Lees)

Side 2
Waiting For The Right Time (Les Holroyd)
Just A Day Away (Forever Tomorrow) (John Lees)
Paraiso Dos Cavalos (John Lees)
Ring Of Changes (Les Holroyd)


Bonus tracks on remastered CD:
Blow Me Down (John Lees)
Waiting For The Right Time [Edited And Remixed Version] (Les Holroyd)
Ring Of Changes [Single Version] (Les Holroyd)



Recording Details

Recording Studios:
Recorded at Far Studios, Frankfurt (Frank Farian’s studio). Mixed at RAK Studios, London.

Recording Dates:
January to March, 1983

Producer:
Pip Williams

Engineer:
Gregg Jackman



Guest Musicians

"Special Guest Musician" was Bias Boshell, working with BJH for the first time. Bias (it’s short for Tobias, by the way) was a founder member of Trees at the end of the 1960s, worked with Kiki Dee, writing "I’ve Got The Music In Me", amongst others. The orchestration on "Fifties Child" and "Paraiso Dos Cavalos" was arranged by Pip Williams and performed by the New World Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by David Katz. Kevin McAlea played keyboards on "Midnight Drug" and Henry Morris provided "occasional backing vocals".



Title

Coined in 1982, which was expected to be a "year of change" for BJH, moving to Germany for a year for tax purposes, changing producer and working with Bias Boshell for the first time.



Sleeve

Concept and design by Alwyn Clayden and David Walker. The "cut-out" design with the atom showing through was very effective on the LP, although the handwritten lyrics written in a ring on the inside of the gatefold are extremely difficult to read - one earlier design has them typeset in a more conventional manner (below).

Early trial artwork for inside of Ring Of Changes sleeve



Pip Williams

A trained guitarist, arranger and producer, Pip met David Walker in the early 70s, and later joined him at Handle Artists. Pip produced artists as diverse as Mud, Kiki Dee (when he met Bias Boshell), Status Quo and The Moody Blues, as well as performing briefly with his own band, Bardot. Gregg Jackman was Chief Engineer at RAK Studios when he first met Pip, and also joined Handle Artists in 1980.


Fifties Child

The musical theme of the song is introduced in the album’s orchestral opening, a neo-classical arrangement, before the band plunge in. The song tackles the lost idealism of those who grew up in the sixties and seventies and calls for a return to those values of peace and love.

Lyrics:
Love was a lesson we tried to learn
There were no exams to pass or fail
Only heartbreaks, renew our faith
Life was a lesson we've tried to learn
There were no tests to pass, no license to gain
Only win or lose, renew our faith

Renew our faith, let us see
Fifties child was right to believe
Peace and love were our needs
The need to be free

War is a lesson we've had to learn
We had to learn to kill, to destroy and burn
But our spirits cry, renew our faith
Peace is a lesson we've yet to learn
A prize for all mankind who race for the gain
Of love and harmony, renew our faith

Renew our faith, let us see
Fifties child was right to believe
Peace and love were our needs
The need to be free

Renew our faith, let us see
Young and old we're right to believe
Peace and love are our needs
The need to be free

[John Lees, © BJH Ltd/Handle Music Ltd]


Looking From The Outside

An ambiguous lyric here, which at first seems to be about a relationship where the writer can’t reach a partner on an emotional level, but then could also be read as the first recognition that all was not well within the band. This is only a personal construction, of course, but in the light of John’s and David Walker’s comments that this album would not have been made were it not for the strong character of Pip Williams holding the band together, the latter interpretation now seems more credible.

Lyrics:
There is something that I can see
Every time that you talk to me
And it feels like I'm gonna be
Looking from the outside
There is something I've got to say
And it's making me feel this way
Does it mean that I'm gonna stay
Looking from the outside

I might as well fall
I might as well drift away
I might as well fall
It seems there is no other way
Looking from the outside
Looking from the outside
Looking for the inside of you

If I say that I like your song
Will you say that you played it wrong
Or that maybe I stayed too long
Looking from the outside
If I say that you're out of line
Will you say that I'm wasting time
'Cos it's making me feel that I'm
Looking from the outside

I might as well fall
I might as well drift away
I might as well fall
It seems there is no other way
Looking from the outside
Looking from the outside
Looking for the inside of you

[Les Holroyd, © BJH Ltd/Handle Music Ltd]


Teenage Heart

John revisits his youth with this tale of post-pubescent passion for his own Lolita!

Lyrics:
It's the truth, or so they say
Who holds her hand, holds her heart
She's old enough to play fast and loose
In a schoolgirl kind of way

But this teenage heart's driving me insane
The moment that we touch will ease my pain
Who holds her hand, holds her heart
So they say

Finding words, finding the nerve
But never finding her alone
My heart's like sand she holds in her hands
One look, one smile, and I'd be there

But this teenage heart's driving me insane
The moment that we touch will ease my pain
Who holds her hand, holds her heart
So they say

Say what she said, "Is she going out?
Or is it me she'll see tonight?
Tell me the truth, I'm man enough
Well, in a schoolboy kind of way

But this teenage heart's driving me insane
The moment that we touch will ease my pain
Who holds her hand, holds her heart
So they say

[John Lees, © St. Annes Music]


High Wire

There’s a real drive to this song, as Les tackles a relationship where the protagonist is badly-treated, and predicts that his lover will come to a bad end, but can’t resist coming back for more.

Lyrics:
I have seen and I have heard
The story's all the same
Running here and running there
Your love is like a game
Everytime I look for you
You're walking in the clouds
When I look into your eyes
I see you looking down

You've got something that I want
You've got something that I need
If there's a chance that I can see
I will follow where you lead me

High wire, walking on a high wire
You're walkin' on a high wire
You're walkin' tall
But you know you're gonna fall someday

I have seen and I have heard
That you've been fooling me
You could try to make me feel
The way I used to be
Is there any reason why
You leave me on the shore?
When I look into your eyes
It makes me beg for more

You've got something that I want
You've got something that I need
If there's a chance that I can see
I will follow where you lead me

High wire, walking on a high wire
You're walkin' on a high wire
You're walkin' tall
But you know you're gonna fall from your...

[Les Holroyd, © BJH Ltd/Handle Music Ltd]


Midnight Drug

The contrast between the natural highs of love and the artificiality of chemically-induced pleasure is not a new subject for John (cf. "Hymn"), but this song is more personal. It was written about a particular friend who was, as John saw it, wasting his money and destroying his life with drink, drugs and promiscuity. The message does not come across as smug or patronising, though, but with genuine concern.

Lyrics:
I get up early in the morning
It's up and out with the sun
Spending my days making natural highs
And in the evening when my work is done
I make a phone call from the hotel
Speak to my woman each day
I tell my lady that I'm missing her
And I hope she feels the same
At least she knows that I'm not
Sharing out our love
With the midnight drug

You spend your day in an in-joke
Pouring your life in a glass of ice
And no one's laughing but the monkey in you
Paranoia for the highest price
You make a phone call from the hotel
Spending your life in the night
The kind of women who don't come for free
But then I guess they know you'll pay the price
If they can keep you up
They know you've got what turns them on
The midnight drug

How many times must we tell you
Just how much we care
You must know how we love you
But we can't even meet half-way
Well I've got something to tell you
If you can only take it in
I think you're worthy of a better cause
If you can just stop looking for
What you never get enough of
The midnight drug

Your kind of sugar is a sweet club
I like my sugar in tea
You spend your life going faster
There's no surviving when you crash at speed
Now, I'm not saying that I'm wrong or right
But that the truth is plain to see
I get my kicks from my friends and their love
It's the kind of love that comes for free
They're the kind of friends
That you don't find when you go looking for
They only pick you up then let you fall
'Till you come back for more
Of the midnight drug

[John Lees, © BJH Ltd/Handle Music Ltd]


Waiting For The Right Time

The second single from the album in the UK, although the German company chose to go with an edited version of "Ring Of Changes" instead. It’s a bittersweet romantic tale about loneliness after a heartbreak, with Les holding out the hope of a reconciliation and a happy ending. The 7" version of the single was shortened by means of an atrocious piece of editing which managed to destroy the time structure of the song.

Lyrics:
Seems to me, the time has come
Party's over, you sit by the 'phone
Through the daytime, you're gonna be all right
But when the night time comes
You're gonna be alone

Even though your heart is breaking
I see it in your eyes
Even though there's no mistaking
I see there's no disguise

Waiting for the right time
To call out your name
Oh, the right time
To see you again
Oh, the right time
To reach out and touch your face

We said goodbye in the morning
Streets were empty and pouring rain
All the worries, all the bad times
Will simply fly right out of here
When I speak your name

Even though your heart is breaking
I see it in your eyes
Even though there's no mistaking
I see there's no disguise

Waiting for the right time
To call out your name
Oh, the right time
To see you again
Oh, the right time
To reach out and touch your face

[Les Holroyd, © BJH Ltd/Handle Music Ltd]


Just A Day Away (Forever Tomorrow)

John’s love song was a rather surprising choice for the first single to promote the album, perhaps, but it fared quite well, reaching #40 in Germany and, with the benefit of a rather lurid picture disc, #68 in Britain. The "Tijuana brass"-style trumpet solo towards the end sounds very much as though it was synthesized, as does the string arrangement...

Lyrics:
There's a beautiful sight
You know they call it tomorrow
It's the most beautiful sight
That you'll ever see

I know it's only a day away
And it's always in the future
But it's that something to look forward to
That brings me closer to you

Do you remember the time
We said we'd love until forever
'Till all the stars in the sky
Dropped one by one into the sea

I know forever's just a day away
And it's always in the future
But it's that something to look forward to
That brings me closer to you

I know forever's just a day away
And it's always in the future
But it's that something to look forward to
That brings me closer to you

When we're together again
We'll make love until the morning light
We'll hold each other tight
Until tomorrow comes

I know it's only a day away
But it's always in the future
This time you know forever I'll stay
Holding you closer to me

Oh, I know it's just a day away
And it's always in the future
This time you know forever I'll stay
Holding you closer to me

[John Lees, © BJH Ltd/Handle Music Ltd]


Paraiso Dos Cavalos

Following the 1980 European Tour, John and his family went on a riding holiday to the Algarve in southern Portugal, intending to be there for a week or two, and ended up staying for months! The riding school was called "Paraiso dos Cavalos" (Portuguese for "horses’ paradise") and was situated in the Quinta do Lago area, near Almansil. Nico, Limpopo, Ipaminandas and Young Nero were some of the horses. Here the orchestral arrangement is more sensitive, and there’s some beautiful harp which complements the subject-matter perfectly.

Lyrics:
Met an old friend the other day
Recognised from a different age
Like a ghost in a photograph
Distant memories of the past
There was Nico and Limpopo
Ipaminandas and young Nero
All the old friends we've known so well
With all the stories they'll never tell

All it took was a photograph
To bring the memories chasing back
Of summer sunshine and cool green wine
And all the good times we'd left behind
We'd take the road down to Almansil
If I had known then we'd be there still
We left our hearts in the soft sea spray
With every Quinta Do Lago day

The wind in your hair
The sun in your face
The feeling of the power
The beauty and grace
Paraiso dos Cavalos
Paraiso dos Cavalos

Through our minds move the souls
Of our bygone years
As we ride through their ancient tears
To a place to a time where
We'd all be saved
To gallop on in the breaking waves

At Paraiso dos Cavalos
Paraiso dos Cavalos

[John Lees, © BJH Ltd/Handle Music Ltd]


Ring Of Changes

The Morse code with which Les’s title track begins actually spells out "ring of changes", and the album’s theme of cyclical change is continued in the circular artwork, the lyrics of this song and the reprise of the orchestral motif at the end, bringing us neatly back to where we came in.

Lyrics:
Talk of tomorrow
And you talk of the times that have been
The wheels keep on turning
Turning circles we go round again
Never ending the time is bending
These songs all the same
And we will stand listening
Looking back on the ones that remain

And time hurries on
We are here, we are gone
And time passes on
All the words of your song

Turn the pages
Nothing ages
That's what you will see
Turn the pages
Ring of changes
Is what it will be

The sun when it's rising
Paints a shadow on where it has been
And night is surprising
To the people who stand in between
Filling spaces you see their face
As they wake from their dream
And we will stand looking
Taking note of the things we have seen

And time hurries on
We are here, we are gone
And time passes on
All the words of your song

Turn the pages
Nothing ages
That's what you will see
Turn the pages
Ring of changes
Is what it will be

[Les Holroyd, © BJH Ltd/Handle Music Ltd]


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